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‘Freezing’: a common Parkinson’s symptom

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Dear Patrick,

I’m having problems with freezing in my home. Strangely enough, it seems to occur frequently at the same location in my kitchen. I have an island that sticks out in the center of my kitchen with the prep sink and often times when I try to walk through that area I freeze. Can you tell me why this is happening and do you have any suggestions?

Thanks in advance, Carol M.

Answer:

Hi Carol, thanks for your question. The situation with freezing that you are experiencing is not uncommon. Parkinson’s symptoms such as freezing can be exacerbated by stress or concerns about navigating through an area. You might also be experiencing freezes in doorways? That is also common. One suggestion I have is to set up your home to maximize both your comfort and ability to successfully and safely navigate. In regards to the area near your sink, you might try putting a piece of tape on the floor  to serve as a visual target for you to step on or over.

Freezes can often be broken by utilizing a visual target or cue.  You can purchase inexpensive blue or green tape at your local hardware store which is used to mask off areas while painting. It won’t damage your floor and can be removed once you get better at passing through that area.

Setting up your home for both safety and function is an important task for anyone living with Parkinson’s disease. You can ask your neurologist for a prescription for occupational therapy to help with activities of daily living as well as asking the therapist for tips on making your home more comfortable and safe.

Two common hazards that can easily be remedied are cabinet corners and throw rugs. Many families lay down throw rugs in high-traffic areas such as doorways and halls to avoid wearing down the rug beneath. This is a miss guided strategy and a bad idea. The cost of a broken hip is significantly more than the cost eventually re-carpeting. Tripping over a throw rug is probably the leading cause of falls in the home. How to remedy this? Pick up the throw rugs and throw them out, all of them. I wish I could change the name from the “throw rug” to the “throw out rug.”

Another common hazard is sharp corners on cabinets or tables. I had a client named Bill who had a new cut or nick on the top of his head every time I showed up for his in-home exercise sessions. He had a low hanging cabinet with a sharp corner just above the toaster where he would prepare his breakfast in the morning. He’d hit his head on the corner of that cabinet at least once a week. I purchased a foam corner pad, that is designed to make homes safe for small children, and attached it to the corner. Bill’s head healed and that was the end of the weekly cuts to his head. These pads are easily installed (most have adhesive backs) and are available at any hardware store or can be ordered online.

http://www.amazon.com/Interbusiness-Infant-Safety-Cushion-Protector/dp/B00MHDPGSO

Parkinson’s disease is a difficult diagnosis, but making intelligent decisions in regards to the way you live can make all the difference. Keep moving and take heart in the fact that you can often find ways of overcoming many of your Parkinson’s symptoms.

Ask Patrick is an advice/opinion column based on my experiences working with people with Parkinson’s disease as a trainer and an advocate. It is not intended to replace the instructions of your doctor. Always consult with your doctor if there is a change in your status or if you have questions about their instructions. All exercise has an inherent risk of injury so proceed cautiously.

For more information and free Parkinsons exercise videos, visit PatrickLoSasso.com or email Patrick with your questions at patrick@PatrickLoSasso.com

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